I’ve heard this far too many times in the last few weeks.
A young lady named Glyn Wright is quoted over and over as saying,
“So 3 times 4 can now equal 11 so long as a student can effectively explain how they reached that answer.”
She apparently got her information about the Common Core State Standards from this video:
Glyn Wright has misunderstood the video.
Listen carefully to the video at 0:20 – an audience member says, “But we’d be correcting them, right?”
To which the speaker say, “Oh, absolutely! Absolutely.”
You might ask, as one of the YouTube video’s commentators did, “How can a student possibly explain that 3 times 4 is 11?”
Here’s how a kid can get 11 from 3 x 4…
Suppose a child arranges 3 rows of 4 raisins each on a table.
Then he counts them – but he counts them incorrectly and gets 11. (This is common – little kids get distracted and often over or under count.)
He deduces that 3 rows of 4 raisins total 11 – the amount he counted.
He’s shown that creating an array of 3 by 4 is the same as the product 3 times 4. Thus demonstrating that he fully understands the concept of multiplication.
His count was off. Not his idea of what multiplication really is.
Therefore he’s not wrong – he merely needs to correct his counting.
Given the opportunity – by a teacher who recognizes where his error really is – he can self correct and finally arrive at the answer expected.
Why do people freak when they hear this?
Glyn Wright is a perfect example to explain this. Her bio claims no math, math teaching or any education background. In fact, she majored in English and Professional Writing – which means it’s likely she stopped her math education at College Algebra.
I’ve been knee deep in college math education for almost 20 years, so I know what this means.
When she was in school, if she would have said that 3 times 4 is 11, she would have been told it was wrong. It’s unlikely she’s ever had a math teacher say, “Let’s investigate how you got that.”
She’s one of the people conditioned that math is a bunch of absolutes. That there’s no creativity, flexible thinking or even enjoyment in math.